Marcus to head S.Africa central bank

PRETORIA - South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday appointed former deputy governor Gill Marcus as Governor of the central bank with effect from November this year, succeeding Tito Mboweni.

Zuma told reporters he initially reappointed Mboweni for a third five-year term but the governor asked to leave in November.

Marcus, 59 and currently chairwoman of banking group Absa, served as deputy governor of the Reserve Bank between 1999 and 2004.

“I have re-appointed Mr Mboweni as Reserve Bank Governor. However, he has indicated his wish to leave in November 2009 to pursue other interests,” Zuma said.

“Given the indication from Mr Mboweni, I have therefore decided to designate Ms Gill Marcus as Governor of the South African Reserve Bank from November 2009.”

Mboweni was respected by markets for efforts to fight inflation. He did not say what he would do after leaving the central bank.

Marcus was a former activist within the ruling African National Congress and served as head of parliament’s finance committee from 1994 to 1996.

She would not comment on policy, but Zuma said investors should not expect major change, given that the new governor had been involved in the setting up the current stance, including inflation targeting, during her previous term at the bank.

“She’s not new … let nobody wonder what’s going to happen. She was there when the policy was made so there’s nothing really new,” he said, adding the country’s policies had helped cushion the economy from the global downturn.

Analysts said Marcus’ appointment may surprise investors who were mostly expecting Mboweni to stay, but she was well regarded by the financial community.

“I must say she’s highly respected in the market place,” said Colen Garrow, economist at investment group Brait.

“She oversaw the foreign exchange regulations (as deputy governor) and she’s actually quite a good administrator.

“I think the appointment won’t move financial markets. It’s a good appointment.”

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